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What is a CDN?

03 Oct 2018

If you balk at the sight of technical-seeming acronyms, you will be glad to know that there is nothing needlessly complicated about a CDN (or Content Delivery Network) at all. In fact, this industrious cluster of servers makes your everyday web browsing possible. Think of a CDN as a diligent stagehand. You will not see it in the spotlight as you search for sources for your college essay or seek out a new bike. A functioning CDN, however, will get you where you want to be with just a single click. Read on to learn more!

How a CDN Works

Now that you have a basic idea of what a CDN is, you might be wondering exactly how it works. What is important to know is that a CDN is not a single entity. Rather, it is a collection of servers that makes navigating a website quick for you and relatively cheap for the provider. The process is straightforward: you visit a website. The server closest to wherever you are located receives the alert, copies every page of the site to cache, and then distributes it to multiple servers within the network . As you navigate the site, the CDN redirects all your requests to the “flagship server” to a server closer to you.

It does not stop there, however. The CDN continues to work with the main server to provide any information that might not have been saved in the initial cache. As you can imagine, CDNs come in handy for sites that see national or even international web traffic.

Why Use a CDN?

People opt to use CDNs for a number of reasons. Common factors, as previously mentioned, are usually cost and efficiency. Below find a breakdown of each benefit a CDN offers.

They can usually handle a lot of traffic. If you want your website to be accessible to all, you likely want to make sure that a large number of people can visit the website in the first place. Websites that cannot bear heavy traffic are often painfully laggy and sometimes hardly even function at all. Fortunately, thanks to its abundance of robust servers, CDNs have little to trouble with traffic at all.

They make long loading times a thing of the past. Nobody wants to wait forever just for one page to load. With CDNs, that dreaded waiting time is rarely a concern. CDNs relieve strain from the main server by allocating the content load to multiple servers. This means that someone in California can enjoy the same content at the same pace as someone in Australia.

They are fairly cheap. Who doesn’t like to save money? Maintaining a quality website adds up, and bandwidth costs eat up a lot of money fast. CDNs cache the content efficiently and keeps the main server from having overwork.

Want more help making your website more user-friendly? Visit Benchmark for more information.